A Cape Coral woman’s recent pageant win is sending her to nationals to vie for the top crown.
Megan Washington, 31, was crowned Ms. Woman Florida United States on April 30 at the Florida Georgia United States National Pageants at the Flagler Auditorium in Palm Coast. Born in Fort Myers and raised in the Cape, Washington explained that she started participating in the pageant in 2015.
“This is my third try,” she said of the competition.
The first year, Washington won second runner-up. She was named first runner-up last year.
“So that was kind of cool,” Washington said.
The Ms. Woman United States title is open to ages 30 and up, who are unmarried or may or may not have previously been married or had children, according to the United States National Pageants.
Washington explained that the state competition consisted of a panel interview with the judges, along with swimwear and evening gown components. There was also an onstage question for contestants.
Asked about winning the state title, she expressed shock.
“I honestly couldn’t believe it,” Washington said.
“It was something I’ve worked for for such a long time,” she added.
Washington originally started competing in pageants toward the end of high school and in college. At the age of 21, she was diagnosed with a rare heart arrhythmia that required corrective surgery.
Washington had been training to be a professional wrestler.
“That kind of sidelined that dream,” she said.
Washington recalled the doctor telling her that she could die walking up a flight of stairs.
“I began to become afraid of leaving my apartment,” she said.
With the physical limitations, Washing-ton began to develop post traumatic stress disorder.
“It also became a mental complication,” she said.
Washington sought help and eventually found herself approaching 30.
“I needed to start doing all the things I was doing before,” she said, referring to what she enjoyed.
So, Washington returned to pageantry and scored a title win that is taking her to nationals.
The Miss United States Pageant 2017 will be held June 30 to July 8 in Orlando.
“I’m really exited,” she said.
Asked about preparing for the competition, Washington explained that she has been working with her pageant coach – also the coach for Miss USA – as well as eating a healthy diet and working out.
“So I can make sure I look my best for fitness,” she said.
Washington noted that she is going up against the best women in each state.
“I know I’m just going to do my best and try to bring home the national title,” she said.
Washington added that her experiences have given her a new perspective on life.
“I’m not afraid of getting out there, and trying and failing,” she said.
During her reign as Ms. Woman Florida, Washington hopes to focusing on promoting health and wellness, especially Go Red For Women. It is the American Heart Association’s movement to end heart disease and strokes in women. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, according to Washington.
“One in three women are affected,” she said. “And it’s 80 percent preventable.”
Washington hold a master’s degree in mass communication from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of South Florida.
For more information, visit online at: www.unitedstatesnationalpageants.com.